Millions of Americans will watch as the new royal bride Kate Middleton walks down the aisle at Westminister Abbey on Friday. All with a keen eye on what the top secret wedding dress will look like and who is responsible for the design.
One particular set of eyes that are sure to be transfixed on every detail of the closely guarded wedding gown debut will be that of Irish born designer Don O'Neill.
O'Neill, the Creative Director of Theia, a bridal house in Manhattan, foresees a targeted trend that soon-to-be brides will wish for the very same dress as the royal bride Kate's, but at a more affordable price.
The bridal gown designer is so convinced of this that he has even guessed already what the famous dress will look like and has designed a version ready to be made and sold in the US, practically days after the unveiling of the royal gown at Westminister Abbey on Friday. He has even named it 'The Kate'.
Pattern makers and cutters, lace manufacturers and embroiderers are all standing at the ready for last minute tweaks in the race to produce the imitation royal wedding dress as well as versions of the gown.
Not all designers share the same brash foresight as O'Neill, however it is widely known that royal wedding dresses so far have come to have high necklines and be quite austere - remember Princess Diana's £9000 bouffant gown with 25-foot train she wore in 1981?
Today’s bride’s own fashion style and taste, often captured in the tabloids and gossip mags, will no doubt have some creative input into the design of the latest addition to the royal gown collection, and even with the right amount of modest royal etiquette involved, is sure to be more modest and slender than that of the groom’s late mother.
It may well be that a Mrs Kate Middleton will influence bridal trends for years to come. Surprising as it may be to some people, Diana's massive meringue style dress became a huge hit in the multi-billion dollar bridal gown market at that time. Susan Glick, the vice president for women’s apparel for New York International Bridal Week, a trade organization, tells The New York Times, “Before Diana’s wedding, you couldn’t find a dress anywhere that was all billowy,” and after Diana’s wedding the “market was glutted with voluminous look-alikes.”
Designer Don O’Neill is leaving nothing to chance. If his design house is swamped with last minute orders for ‘The Kate’ for the popular US early summer weddings, he will busily stitch up a slightly different version in as little as two to four weeks.
According to The New York Times report, Jim Hjelm’s, a bridal designer in New York, will have a sketch sent off to the company’s factory in China which will return samples for approval within 24 hours. “When that dress hits, we'll be right on it,” he says. "We'll probably gamble and have a dress or even three styles out before October," said Hjelm, for shipping to stores in February. "But there are plenty of people who will have the dress within a day."
So it seems, everyone is holding their breath for this one and you would have to have been living under a rock to miss the growing excitement over the coming of this lavish day.